July 05, 2022 | Dhuʻl-Hijjah 5, 1443
Hud (Hud) Chapter 11: Verse 19
God's way is a straight path that has been established by Him. What human beings must do is to know this path well in all its aspects and principles, and to infer new rules in the secondary matters of law, which are subject to change in parallel with the change of time and place, according to the main, unchangeable principles of this path. But those who do not believe in it, and the hypocrites, have always wished that this path were crooked, in accordance with their desires, and in order to serve their interests. So, to attempt to make changes in this path (Islam) or to make it appear different from what it really is so that its enemies may approve of it - such attempts, however intensive or extensive, have always been in vain - amounts only to a betrayal of the path.
"The Quran: Annotated Interpretation in Modern English" - Ali Unal, p. 450
From Issue: 594 [Read original issue]
Once I enter and live in the orbit of the creation — rather than the orbit of God — I begin to use that currency. See, the currency of God’s orbit is: His pleasure or His displeasure, His reward or His punishment. But, the currency of the orbit of creation is: the praise and criticism of people. So, as I enter deeper and deeper into that orbit, I covet more and more of its currency, and I fear more and more of its loss. While I’m playing Monopoly, for example, I covet more and more of its currency. And it feels great to be ‘rich’ for a moment. But when the game is over, what can I buy in the real world with Monopoly money?
The human currency of praise is Monopoly money. It feels great for a moment to collect, but when the game is over, it’s worthless. In the reality of this life and the next, it’s worthless. And yet, I even covet this false currency in my worship. In this way, I fall victim to the hidden shirk: Riyaa (showing off in worship). Riyaa is a consequence of living in the orbit of the creation. The deeper and deeper I enter into that orbit, the more I become consumed with gaining human praise, approval and recognition. The more I enter that orbit, the more I fear loss — loss of face, loss of status, loss of praise, loss of approval.
Yet the more I fear the people, the more I become enslaved. True freedom only comes when I let go of the fear of anything and anyone other than God.
In a profound hadith, a man came to the Prophet (peace be upon him) and said: “O Messenger of God, direct me to an act, which if I do, God will love me and people will love me.” He said: “Detach yourself from the world, and God will love you. Detach yourself from what is with the people, and the people will love you.” [Ibn Majah]
Ironically, the less we chase after the approval and love of the people, the more we gain it. The less needy we are of others, the more people are drawn to us and seek our company. This hadith teaches us a profound Truth. Only by breaking out of the orbit of the creation, can we succeed with both God and people.
"Reclaim Your Heart" - Yasmin Mogahed
From Issue: 859 [Read original issue]
The natural function of reason is to preserve the eternal possibility of self. Guidelines for the development of reason have been sent through the prophets and takes the form of the Word as either a person — Jesus— or a Book — the Quran. The strategy of prescribed fasting is used by believers to strengthen reason. As reason grows stronger, it becomes better able to attract the spiritual heart, the center of Divine Light within towards itself and away from the passions. Reason is strengthened through will power to consciously deny the self its source of energy. The parts of self which is being denied energy are the passions — lust and anger. As the power to reason grows stronger, the self learns self-control and self-mastery. It strengthens its ability to self stocktaking.
From self-control develops human dignity and freedom because when the devotee performs the prescribed fast, he or she learns to control the passions and discipline desires to resist wrongdoing. He or she is then freed from the control of negative behaviors and replaces them with inner peace. When observing the prescribed fast, the believer grounds self in discipline which leads to a strengthening of will power and determination. This will power, guided by reason which rules over the passions, allows the devotee to further character and inner development.
The emphasis on the spiritual aspect of self calls for the lessening of emphasis on the stomach, allowing extra energies to flow towards the spiritual center of self, the "heart" and turn it away from natural desires.
"Strategies for the Prescribed Fast" - Pervez Hanif
From Issue: 945 [Read original issue]